Tag Archives: advice

Choosing classes at BU!

 

Is it here yet?

So you’re newly accepted and anxiously waiting for September to start your adventure as a BU COM grad right? I thought so. You just want to skip right over summer and be here already. We know the feeling.

You may be wondering what classes you need to take and how to go about figuring that out. Well, step one -go to our website and click on your program. Then click under degree requirements. This is usually a great place to start. It tells you all your required classes and then some. I recommend getting all of your required classes out of the way first, especially if you’re like me and planning on going to London for your third semester!

Step two – speak to your department head. He/she will be very helpful in telling you exactly what classes you need. For example, for PR, CM 700 is only offered in the Fall. I emailed the head of the department, Professor Wright, and he essentially told me exactly which classes to take my first two semesters in order to ensure I’ll be on track for London. Because I’m in Public Relations, let me give you a preview of what your first and second semesters will look like to get the requirements out of the way.

Fall

  • CM700 – Financial and Strategic Management
  • CM 701 – Contemporary Public Relations
  • CM 722 – Communication Research
  • CM 707 (or) 705 – Writing for Media Professionals/International Students

Spring

  • CM 710 – Communication Theory
  • CM 742 – Media Relations
  • CM 709 or 715 – Corporate or Nonprofit
  • Elective

But that’s just an example for those in Public Relations. And if that’s your track, don’t take my word for it (I’m probably/and usually right), but I would definitely double check.

Step three: You’ll have an adviser assigned to you – usually a professor. He or she could be a big help also! And finally, step four: comgrad@bu.edu is always a huge help. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Hooray, It’s LA!

Hollywood Bound

Here in the MFA section of Film and Television at Boston University, we get really hyped up about something most people our age find absolutely detestable as a conversational centerpiece–the future.  A case could be made that we’re all just too engrossed in our own work, but the solution may be more ridiculous: it’s our school. The Film and Television department offers a pretty sweet opportunity at the end of our program, one in which we can defer our graduation after taking an additional semester of focused classes and internships in Los Angeles.

This is a pretty big deal, as jobs in Hollywood are notoriously difficult to find.  When people say you need a friend in the industry, they’re not joking.  This program, though, helps us get a foot in the door.

Here’s how it works.  During your final semester, you send off an essay that details exactly what you want out of your future career and a portfolio of what you’ve done so far.  If you’re accepted, a representative from the BU in LA program, or in my case, the Writer in LA program, will come and interview you and help you find an internship or three.

It seems to me that the question isn’t so much why you’d want to do this, but instead–why wouldn’t you?

I’m a career-minded person.  I have a lot of trouble staying in the present with both of my personal and professional lives, and I’m always thinking more about the sale and production of my scripts than the actual writing of them.  As soon as I’m finished getting down the premise, I’m already thinking about shots, actors, and audience reception.  Now, this isn’t exactly a terrible thing, but it’s also not what I’m here to talk about.

This problem leads me to a few solutions.  I’m really interested in developing stories and structures for television.  I like thinking about how characters develop and change over time–after all, change is the essence of storytelling–so I’d love to get into a show-runner position.

Back up–how does this affect what I’m doing now?  My goals, for now, is to get an internship working in a writer’s room.  My philosophy is that the best work starts from the bottom, and being able to work my way up to the top, learning all the way, will make me more well-rounded in the end.   Being in graduate school has taught me a few things, and if you’ve ever spoken to me or read my other posts on this blog, you’ve certainly been beaten over the head by this before.

First, graduate school isn’t the end of your education, but the beginning of your career.  Second, it’s dangerous to have the attitude that the learning stops once you leave the school.  But that’s the really brilliant thing about this program.  Being able to get your start in a place like Boston is really essential, as you don’t have to fight ten thousand other filmmakers scraping for jobs, locations, and actors.  The opportunity to transition over to the land of the big dogs once you’ve had a chance to learn and expand in a free-form environment sets you a cut above everyone else that’s tried (and often, failed) to run out to LA with a suitcase and a dream.

The Writer in LA program, for me, just makes sense.   Hollywood is where the action happens–from writing to production.  It’s the place to be if you’re serious about filmmaking, and the opportunity to have someone hold your hand while you try to figure it all out is too good to pass up.

See you in Los Angeles.

The Reason I Chose BU

My path to BU was a little different then my fellow bloggers. Firstly, BU was not my first choice. I had eyes for only one school – NYU. It was what drove me to apply to graduate school in the first place – I wanted to be a New York City gal.

However, a friend cautioned me not to put all my eggs in one basket and suggested two other top Communication schools I should try for. So I applied to NYU Steinhardt, Georgetown University, and Boston University and, low and behold, I got into all three. When decision time came around I hesitated. Shouldn’t I just check out these other schools before dismissing them off the bat? I mean I did take the time to apply and pay for the pleasure of it. So, when I got back from Spain I set off on a graduate pilgrimage.

My life changing decision

Overall, I loved them all, which made my decision even harder. I saw a metaphorical, yet all too real, crossroad ahead of me. Whatever school I choose would lead me down a specific path that would be hard to deviate from. Georgetown had a beautiful campus (think Harry Potter – I’m still waiting for my letter). The classes sounded extremely interesting and the professors were all big players in their respective fields. However, they were too politically oriented for my test as well as mainly theoretical.

NYU, my love, was, unfortunately, mainly theoretical as well. It was ridiculously (yes ridiculously) interesting and married closely to my undergraduate degree in anthropology (which is not the study of ants, people). However, it was just too academically focused. I knew if I went there I would be following a path that would inevitably lead to a faculty position at a university – which was the main reason I had decided not to continue my studies in anthropology. Also, though the people at the actual college were nice and helpful during open house, the admission people were a little off putting and I got the feeling that they didn’t really care if I attended or not.

BU, quite frankly, surprised me. One of the main reasons I never really considered BU was because of its close proximity to my hometown. I wanted to get out of Massachusetts, badly. I had been extremely pleased with BU’s admission process – I actually felt like they cared that I was interested in their school. However, I wasn’t really expecting their open house to affect my decision. I had, at that moment, decided to send in my deposit to NYU and was just going at the behest of my family. BU, however, seemed to know exactly what I needed.

Several keywords were emphasized throughout the event – practical experience, alumni network, support, bacon wrapped bread (truth). The professors were affable and the admission staff downright charming. During the breakout sessions the professors in my program, Communication Studies, were honest and encouraging. They made sure I knew what type of program I would be getting into – a practically oriented one. This was also the only open house that took 30 minutes to discuss, without prompt, how I could possibly afford the program.

After another week of hemming and hawing I sent in my deposit, to BU. For me, someone looking for a program that would help jump-start my career in Communication, this was the best and obvious choice. I have not regretted it since.

 

Making The Final Decision

A difficult choice

Choosing a graduate school is, unsurprisingly, very different from selecting your undergraduate institution. For one thing, your priorities are different. You’re much older, and with advanced age comes new, specific goals that you have honed over the course of your previous four (five…six?) years. Therefore, it is important to make sure that when deciding what graduate program to attend you don’t think of it as the same type of rah-rah rose-colored selection process as before. Think of graduate school as one final step into your transition to the working world, whether you are entering for the first time or looking for a career change. Five things to think about:

Cost: Like undergraduate work, graduate school often comes with significant cost. Let’s not fail to acknowledge the obvious. Tuition and student fees (and living expenses) are the elephants in the room when determining the right place to continue your education, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Loans are great — there’s a stigma to taking advantage of them, but they do help people who otherwise may not be able to afford a great education — but you only want to take out so much. Remember, you’ll need to pay back what you take out eventually. Don’t be afraid of loans. Most students here at B.U. take advantage of these, and we have a great staff to help you figure out all of the scary vocabulary, confusing percentages and indecipherable fine print. On the other hand, you want to take advantages of scholarships and grants, just like you did at your previous school. If a school is offering you a hefty scholarship, this will most likely be (and should be) a significant factor for consideration. Make sure to make the best decision for you, but be equally sure that you can afford it, either now or down the road when you start making repayments.

Location: The real estate matters. Remember, graduate school is about honing (there’s that word again) a refined skill that you are hoping to turn into a lucrative career. Part of that process is making sure you receive a first-class education, which B.U. and other schools provide. The other part of that is networking, which is one of the major keys to success. You aren’t just choosing a school for the information you are going to get in the classroom. The professors and career contacts and fellow students you will meet along the way are a big part of the graduate experience. To best take advantage of this, make sure that you are comfortable with where you are geographically. Boston is obviously a leading city for creative, innovative, entrepreneurial minds. Aside from the city’s undeniable intellectual clout, Boston offers a wide array of academic, social and cultural resources, including museums, PR firms, corporate headquarters, leading journalistic enterprises, history, entertainment, sports and much more. It’s hard to not like Boston once you’ve been here, but whatever your decision, make sure that you can make yourself feel enough at home to take advantage of your environment.

Who’s in charge here: Look up your future professors. Find out what their interests are. Here at B.U., we have some of the most welcoming staff members, from administrators on down, that you will find anywhere. Trust me. These people are ready to help you. They want to help you. If you find a professor with similar interests as you, ask what you can gain from their program. Make sure to do your research: find out who teaches the classes, what they’ve done, who they know. Ask them questions about their work, about their classes and the school. You can find out so much information this way, and all it takes is a quick email or a short phone call. Not only will you get a better sense of what a graduate program is like, but you will give that graduate program a sense of who you are. These connections are invaluable once you arrive on campus.

Think logistics: Once you decide that you like a certain program, you’ll have to start thinking of the practical necessities that are often forgotten in the decision-making process. Where are you going to live? How much does it cost for a typical apartment? Stake out each location and think ahead. Many schools, including B.U., have resources to help you with this sort of thing. Most of that will take place after accepting an offer, but it doesn’t hurt to start considering these factors beforehand.

Have fun deciding: It’s very easy to get stressed out while you are trying to decide between two or three (or more) terrific schools. When you find yourself on the verge of pulling out all of you hair, just remind yourself that two or three great schools want me to join their program! Getting admitted to graduate school is a great accomplishment and a pretty big deal for most people. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back. Don’t feel like you need to rush your decision. Think of how great your future looks. Daydream about the possiblilites, try to imagine yourself at each school, and find out what will truly make you happy as a graduate student. Once you do all of that, the choice will be a much easier one to make.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. It’s an exciting experience.

 

BU East Campus and Charles River

 

Be Well Read

As an applicant to the masters in journalism program at the BU College of Communication, one of the essays that you have to write, along with life narrative and professional experience, is called “Periodicals”.  This is the part of your application where you get to show the admissions committee how engaged you are in the current media landscape as a consumer. The thought is that folks who are interested in becoming journalists are likely inspired by professionals who they have encountered along the way. One of the defining characteristics of a great journalist is a constant thirst for news and information, and in the periodicals essay you have the chance to share with the school how you quench that thirst.

There is a major focus here at BU on electronic media and social media, so in writing your periodicals essay be sure to make it very clear that you not only frequent a variety of online news sources, but that you have at least a working knowledge of the social media scene.  If you don’t have much experience with social media, I would suggest getting a little acquainted with the ways of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. While you may not use these tools every day while studying here at BU, you will undoubtedly need to use them from time to time.

Listed in the required reading for every jounalism course you take here at BU will be a number of daily newspapers. Being up to date with The Boston Globe, the New York Times and USA Today is expected in the courses you will be taking. Therefore in this essay the ability to demonstrate that you are already in the habit of staying up to date will bode well for your application. And much like I suggested in the social media section, if you are not in the habit of reading daily newpapers, you would help prepare yourself for life at BU by starting.

The fact is that journalism is just as much about reading and staying informed as it is about writing and reporting. In my Journalism Principals and Techniques course in the fall our professor had what he called “The 3 R’s”:  Reading, Reporting, and Writing. In order to be a better writer, it’s vital to be an avid reader. So while you are writing your periodicals essay, be sure to express just how much reading means to you.